Home in the foothills close to Kathmandu, NepalHome in the foothills close to Kathmandu, NepalWaiting for fuel in Kathmandu

There is a fuel crisis in Nepal, this has been going on since early September, http://ti.me/1Y4cqUL.

Here is my account of the situation:

The fuel lines are long and often 3 vehicles deep on both sides of the narrow roads, blocking the paths of the lucky few who were able to purchase petroleum. People are leaving their cars, busses and motorbikes in line for days checking on them periodically to see if any progress has been made. For those who can afford it, there is fuel available on the black market for a hefty price. Often there is no choice if one needs to travel in Nepal other than to pay the high price. Hotels and restaurants are empty and offering a reduced menu, food that either is cooked over an open fire, or is not cooked at all. There simply is no cooking fuel for the average Nepali citizen to purchase, and cooking over an open fire is the only option. However, many people who live in Kathmandu and rent simple rooms cook inside their homes – as they do not have an area to cook outside. Using an open fire to cook inside is not an option, so they purchase bread and cheese to eat for breakfast and dinner. The average Nepali citizen does not have a refrigerator to keep fresh food and needs to purchase food on a daily basis. The prices are rising and their incomes are dwindling. This is the situation in the capital city of Kathmandu, but in the hillsides the situation is even worse.

Home in the foothills close to Kathmandu, Nepal

Home in the foothills close to Kathmandu, NepalMany people are still living in temporary shelters that were designed to last only through the monsoon season. There was a brief window of time between monsoon and winter that could have been used to rebuild their homes, however with the fuel crisis, supplies were not delivered. People will spend the long winter in a tin or plastic shelter praying that they do not freeze or starve to death. Malnutrition has been an ongoing issue in Nepal prior to the earthquake and fuel crisis. Without basic food necessities, this situation will spiral out of control. Foreign aid organizations have warehouses full of supplies, however, without fuel it is not possible to bring anything to the remote hillside villages.

As our plane took off from the Kathmandu airport, headed for home, I had tears in my eyes. It would be so easy to walk away from these people and throw my hands up and ask myself, “what can I possibly do to help?” I have a very comfortable life in California, a new grandson, a beautiful house and plenty of food to eat, why should I continue to make this trip, to try to help these people, when their own government is not providing basic living necessities? The answer to me is clear when I look into their eyes and realize that all they want to do is live their lives without any conflict. The Nepali people have been living in an oppressed society for so long that they don’t know anything else. They are non-confrontational by nature and do not want to cause problems, they don’t want to live with conflict and therefore just want to go about their daily lives. When the lines for fuel back up for days the response is, “Nepal has a new festival:  waiting for fuel.” As people are waiting with their vehicles to purchase a few precious liters of petrol they are laughing, singing and gossiping, not screaming and threatening, as it would be in so many other countries.

The sad reality lies in the marginalized population, the young women, children and the elderly of Nepal, who are vulnerable to the elements and aftermath of disasters. They are also exposed to the predators looking to make a few rupees for the sale of their lives. Prior to these disasters Nepal was referred to as a developing country, but the combination of the earthquake and fuel crisis has plummeted them into being one of the poorest of the poor.

Many people do not know much about Nepal beyond Mt. Everest but there is so much more to Nepal than trekking and mountain climbing, there are the lives of people, who happened to be born in the Himalayan Kingdom. They have lived through a civil war, survived countless diseases and poverty and they deserve a chance to live, to thrive, and to be able to sit in congress and try to change their world.

I have traveled to Nepal many times and each time my heart is filled with excitement and anxiety while looking out of the window of the airplane when we land in Kathmandu. Excitement – after all, this is Nepal, anxiety – does this airport have radar yet, who will be at the airport to meet me, will my luggage full of medicine and vitamins get through customs? But most importantly, will I be able to make a difference, will we at Project for a Village be able to help? I don’t know the answer to this question. We need to step outside ourselves for a few moments and reach into our hearts and pockets and help the people who have not been given the opportunity to live.

For more information on how to help please visit our website, www.projectforavillage.org